The first image that comes to mind when I think of Cary Grant is the classy gentleman that ultimately became his signature style. Most brilliant of all in Grant’s impressive repertoire perhaps was his ability to add the bumbling to the suave sophisticate. That’s the man I adore, but that man didn’t come about easily. It was hard work and perseverance that led to the archetype that’s still recognized as the domain of just one man. One.
Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England on January 18, 1904. From 1932 to 1966 he appeared in over 70 motion pictures becoming one of the greatest movie stars in the world. Ever. And that’s not an exaggeration as you well know. Beloved and admired by the masses and his peers Grant mastered various film genres turning in memorable performances in broad comedies, murder mysteries, adventure stories and romances.
On that road to becoming Cary Grant the image, Cary Grant the actor played men with numerous careers and from different walks of life. It’s quite the impressive resume, one that goes well beyond a gorgeous exterior. Why don’t I show you?
Cary Grant’s Résumé
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- At least twelve rich, playboy types if you don’t include the five successful businessmen.
- Ten soldiers
- Six newspaper men/writers
- Six doctors/scientists
- Five artistic types
- Four government agents
- Three pilots
- Three advertising executives
- Two supernatural beings
- One Earl, a policeman, an engineer, a lawyer, an economist, a politician, a few unsavory types, half a dozen or so times involved in espionage.
- The handsome, rich bachelor often, but was also a loving husband and father to several women and numerous children
- Hard-working and reliable
- Energetic, well-executed pratfalls
- Distinctive double-take
- Proficient at fast-talk
- Style Icon
- Unique voice
- Exceptional romantic skills
- Great with pets and children
Rich men and playboys (1932 to 1962)
- Philip Shayne in Delbert Mann’s That Touch of Mink (1962)
- Johnnie Aysgarth in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941)
- C. K. Dexter Haven in George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story (1940)
- Alec Walker in John Cromwell’s In Name Only (1939)
- Jerry Warriner in Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth (1937)
- Ernest Bliss in Alfred Zeisler’s The Amazing Adventure (1936)
- Gerald Fitzgerald in Elliott Nugent’s Enter Madame! (1935)
- Jack Clayton in Wesley Ruggles’ I’m No Angel (1933)
- Jeffrey Baxter in Paul Sloane’s The Woman Accused (1933)
- Romer Sheffield in William Seiter’s Hot Saturday (1932)
- Charlie Baxter in Dorothy Arzner’s Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
- Ridgeway in Alexander Hall’s Sinners in the Sun (1932)
Businessman (1934 to 1966)
- Sir William Rutland in Charles Walters’ Walk Don’t Run (1966)
- (and widower) Tom Winters in Melville Shavelson’s Houseboat (1958)
- Clemson Reade in Sidney Sheldon’s Dream Wife (1953)
- Julian De Lussac in Frank Tuttle’s Ladies Should Listen (1934)
- Malcolm Trevor in Lowell Sherman’s Born to be Bad (1934)
PS – If you’re thinking that Cary Grant as business man looks very similar to Cary Grant rich playboy – well, yeah.
Men of science (1934 to 1951)
- Physician, Dr. Noah Praetorius in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s People Will Talk (1951)
- Chemist, Dr. Barnaby Fulton in Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952)
- Neurosurgeon, Dr. Eugene Norland Ferguson in Richard Brooks’ Crisis (1950)
- Pediatrician, Dr. Madison Brown in Don Hartman’s Every Girl Should Be Married (1948)
- Paleontologist, David Huxley in Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby (1938)
- Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Maurice Lamar in Harlan Thompson’s Kiss and Make-Up (1934)
Soldiers (1932 to 1959)
- Lt. Cmdr. Matt T. Sherman in Blake Edwards’ Operation Petticoat (1959)
- Cmdr. Andy Crewson in Stanley Donen’s Kiss Them for Me (1957)
- Anthony in Stanley Kramer’s The Pride and the Passion (1957)
- Captain Henri Rochard in Howard Hawks’ I Was a Male War Bride (1949)
- Captain Cassidy in Delmer Daves’ Destination Tokyo (1943)
- Sergeant Cutter in George Stevens’ Gunga Din (1939)
- Captain Andre Charville in George Fitzmaurice’s Suzy (1936)
- British Officer, Micahel Andrews in Charles Barton’s and Louis J. Gasnier’s The Last Outpost (1935)
- Lietenant B. F. Pinkerton in Marion Gering’s Madame Butterfly (1932)
- Lt. Jaeckel (naval officer) in Marion Gering’s Devil and the Deep (1932)
Writers and newspaper men (1934 to 1944)
- Mortimer Brewster in Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
- Reporter, Roger Adams in George Stevens’ Penny Serenade (1941)
- Patrick “Pat” O’Toole in Leo McCarey’s Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)
- Walter Burns in Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (1940)
- Reporter Charlie Mason in Richard Wallace’s Wedding Present (1936)
- Newspaper publisher, Porter Madison III in Marion Gering’s Thirty Day Princess (1934)
Spies or government agents (1933 to 1964)
- Including this one because it borders on “spying” – Walter in Ralph Nelson’s Father Goose (1964)
- Peter Joshua in Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963)
- Devlin in Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946)
- Captain Cummings in Lowell Sherman’s She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Con men, grifters, a thief and a politician (1932 to 1955)
- Retired Cat Burglar in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955)
- Gambler and grifter, Joe “the Greek” Adams in H. C. Potter’s Mr. Lucky (1943)
- Con man, Nick Boyd in Rowland V. Lee’s The Toast of New York (1937)
- Con man, adventurer, Jimmy Monkley in George Cukor’s Sylvia Scarlett (1935)
- Gambler, Ace Corbin in Louis J. Gasnier’s and Max Marcin’s Gambling Ship (1933)
- Nick Townsend in Josef von Sternberg’s Blonde Venus (1932)
Pilots (1933 to 1939)
- Geoff Carter in Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
- Ken Gordon in James Flood’s Wings in the Dark (1935)
- Henry Crocker in Stuart Walker’s The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)
Men of the arts (1937 to 1957)
- Nickie Ferrante in Leo McCarey’s An Affair to Remember (1957)
- Dick Nugent in Irving Reis’ The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
- Cole Porter in Michael Curtiz’s Night and Day (1946)
- (Crooked) Showman Jerry Flynn in Alexander Hall’s Once Upon a Time (1944)
- Jimmy Hudson in Robert Riskin’s When You’re in Love (1937)
Drifters, activists, miscellaneous fellows or regular Joes (1932 to 1944)
- Ernie Mott in Clifford Odets’ None But the Lonely Heart (1944)
- Mill worker and activist, Luopold Dilg in George Stevens’ The Talk of the Town (1942)
- Farmer, Matt Howard in Frank Loyd’s The Howards of Virginia (1940)
- Johnny Case in George Cukor’s Holiday (1938)
- Film debut as javelin thrower/jealous husband, Stephen Matthewson in Frank Tuttle’s This Is the Night (1932)
A lawyer, an economist and an engineer (1940 to 1958)
- Economist, Philip Adams in Stanley Donen’s Indiscreet (1958)
- Engineer, George Rose in Norman Taurog’s Room for One More (1952)
- Lawyer, Nick Arden in Garson Kanin’s My Favorite Wife (1940)
Advertising executives (1948 to 1959)
- Roger O. Thornhill in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959)
- Jim Blandings in H. C. Potter’s Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
An Earl (1960)
Victor, Earl of Rhyall in Stanley Donen’s The Grass is Greener (1960)
A police officer/detective (1936)
Danny Barr in Raoul Walsh’s Big Brown Eyes (1936)
An angel and a ghost (1937 and 1947)
- Dudley in Henry Koster’s The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
- George Kerby in Norman Z. McLeod’s Topper (1937)
“the only actor I ever loved in my whole life.” – Alfred Hitchcock
Ian Fleming modeled pop culture phenomenon, James Bond partially with Grant in mind.
Has appeared on numerous “sexiest stars” and “greatest movie stars” lists.
On American Film Institute’s list of top 100 U.S. love stories, compiled in June 2002, Grant led all actors with six of his films on the list. An Affair to Remember (1957) was ranked #5; followed by: #44 The Philadelphia Story (1940) #46 To Catch a Thief (1955) #51 Bringing Up Baby (1938) #77 The Awful Truth (1937) #86 Notorious (1946).
Was named #2 on The Greatest Screen Legends actor list by the American Film Institute.
Has eight films on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Funniest Movies: Bringing Up Baby (1938) at #14, The Philadelphia Story (1940) at #15, His Girl Friday (1940) at #19, Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) at #30, Topper (1937) at #60, The Awful Truth (1937) at #68, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) at #72 and She Done Him Wrong (1933) at #75.
“The greatest leading man to ever appear on the silver screen.” – Aurora
“You see, he didn’t depend on his looks. He wasn’t a narcissist, he acted as though he were just an ordinary young man. And that made it all the more appealing, that a handsome young man was funny; that was especially unexpected and good because we think, ‘Well, if he’s a Beau Brummel, he can’t be either funny or intelligent’, but he proved otherwise” – George Cukor
He received a special Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1970. The inscription on his statuette read “To Cary Grant, for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with respect and affection of his colleagues”. On being presented with the award, his friend Frank Sinatra announced: “It was made for the sheer brilliance of acting … No one has brought more pleasure to more people for so many years than Cary has, and nobody has done so many things so well”.
Audrey Hepburn in Charade, “Do you know what’s wrong with you? Nothing.”
Additional references available upon request.
As I perused Cary Grant’s filmography for this post I noticed a few things I’d never realized. The first is that there are far too many Cary Grant movies I’ve yet to see. Then I noticed that Cary Grant never made a science fiction movie, which is interesting. In addition, Mr. Grant never made a Western. Huh. It seems he did forge a few Western connections, however. For instance, Grant appeared as himself in a cameo in Mervyn LeRoy’s Without Reservation (1943) starring Claudette Colbert and Westerns legend, John Wayne and he turned the Northwest upside down in Hitchcock’s 1959 masterpiece.
Anyway, no one can dispute Mr. Grant’s versatility as his resume illustrates. When one thinks of a “Jack of all trades” it’s usually followed by “master of none,” a person who can do passable work at various tasks, but does not necessarily excel at any of them. That is not Cary Grant. Cary Grant excelled at everything he attempted in the movies, which is why the mark he made is still felt. As film critic and historian David Thomson states in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film – Cary Grant “was the best and most important actor in the history of the cinema.” I’ll add that it was due to his versatility and the persona that is forever defined by only him that his importance as an actor and film icon never diminishes. There is only one man who has a resume like Cary Grant. When asked, “who is today’s Cary Grant?” filmmaker, Robert Trachtenberg who made Cary Grant: A Class Apart replied, “No one.”
Happy birthday wherever you are.
*Notes: Mr. Grant’s film roles are separated by categories of my choosing in the resume. Keep in mind that there are quite a few instances where roles (categories) overlap. As such any number of roles can be noted under a few categories, but I chose not to repeat movies.
I must give a shout out to fellow classic movie enthusiast, Dean Tom Swanzey who gave me the idea for this post.
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